Managing costs as a disabled student

When you’re disabled and moving onto higher education, it’s important to manage your finances so you have enough money to live on without having too much debt.

You may find that you have to pay more than other students. For example, you might need to:

  • use taxis to get around if you cannot use public transport
  • cover the costs of a travel companion or personal assistant
  • rent more expensive accommodation to meet your access needs
  • spend more on food that is easy to prepare if you find cooking difficult
  • pay for specialist equipment as well as maintenance and insurance
  • replace more clothing, shoes and bedding because of wear and tear
  • face higher energy bills if your condition means you need more heating or laundry

On top of these essential costs are leisure expenses such as cinema tickets, paying for a meal or socialising with friends.

Which? Student Budget Calculator gives you an estimate for general monthly outgoings by university.

If you have not chosen a university yet, you can take a look at the average student costs for the UK (Which?)

Setting up and managing a budget

Before you can set yourself a budget, find out what student funding you can get and make sure you apply for it on time.

Student finance calculator (GOV.UK)

Benefits you can claim

Grants checker

You can then work out a budget that reflects your income and all your costs.

UCAS budgeting tool

Useful student budgeting tips (ucas.com)

Warning Check if student loans affect your benefits

You'll need to find out whether a student maintenance loan will affect any income-related benefits, such as Universal Credit or Housing Benefit.

How student funding affects your benefits

Funding for course costs

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs) can cover disability-related course costs, such as:

  • specialist equipment
  • personal support
  • travel

You can get the allowances on top of other student loans. You will not have to pay them back. DSAs only cover education, not care costs.

Disabled Students’ Allowances (DSAs)

Funding for university 

Funding for care costs

When you go to university, your local authority where you live permanently should fund your care package.

You can ask for an assessment of your care and support needs. This covers personal care, accommodation, education and transport.

If you are eligible for support, you will have the option of a personal budget.

For advice on different ways of managing the money, call Disability Rights UK’s personal budgets helpline.

Education factsheets and guides (Disability Rights UK)

Getting student financial advice

If you’re finding it difficult to manage your finances, you can get advice from your student disability adviser or student money advice team at your college or university.

They will be able to advise you on money management, help you stick to your budget and let you know if extra sources of income are available.

You could also try:

Which? student finance information and advice

Money Advice Service’s Student finance: What you need to know. They also offer money advice over the phone, via WhatsApp messages or web chats.

Student health and wellbeing support services (ucas.com). These can help if you need emotional support with money management or adjusting to university life.

Last reviewed by Scope on: 10/09/2019

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